COMMEMORATING 80 YEARS OF CO-EDUCATION AT KING’S COLLEGE, BUDO (1933-2013)

Speech by the Old Budonian Girls on Founders’ Day 24th March, 2013, read by
Angela Kiryabwire Kanyima – (Advocate) Capital Markets Authority, K.C.Budo Old Girl (1981-1987)

“A vision of Canon Harold M. Grace”

THEME: GREAT CONTRIBUTION BEHIND US, GREATER CONTRIBUTION AHEAD.
To admit girls into King’s College, Budo was an idea that Canon Harold Grace believed could work. So during his time as Headmaster, 1926-1934, he courageously admitted the first twelve girls in 1933. In addition to the many physical structures he added to the school, like the Dinning Hall (commonly known as the Mess), “girls into Budo” is known as his most significant contribution, and therefore, he is rightly referred to as the Second Founder of King’s College, Budo and “the Father of Co-education”.
In Dr.McGregor’s book “King’s College, Budo-the First Sixty Years”, he tells how Canon Grace bought the idea that led the Co-education to emerge. In 1925, Canon Grace, while Headmaster at Mbarara High School for four years, invited Dr. Aggrey Who had been to Achimota College in (Ghana) to stay with him for two weeks. Dr. Aggrey in turn invited Grace and his wife to visit him in the Southern States of USA “to see what he had done in the Negro education”. Grace and his wife got impressed with the way men and women worked side by side in the professions. They both, we are told, concluded that Co-education Boarding Schools were the right thing for Africa. He then set his standards for Budo where he was to go after Mbarara High School. Further, in 1932 when Canon Grace was headmaster at Budo, Mr. A.P. Fraser visited him from Achimota College, and he sold him the idea of boys and girls boarding schools; and Grace welcomed the idea straight away. In fact Fraser invited Grace to succeed him as Principal of Achimota College, which was a well established College, with a big budget and splendid buildings, but in spite, Grace said “not yet!”
In 1933 he admitted 12 girls (McGregor), but only 10 girls’ names are vividly remembered by two Budo girls, Rhoda Nsibirwa Kalema (1937-1947) and Janet Oketch Odonga (1943-1945), as mentioned below. But according to Dr. McGregor, “There was no girls’ school in the country working to the Budo academic level, and so at the beginning of 1933, Budo Junior School admitted twelve little girls”. So the first Co-education Boarding School in Uganda had been launched.
“Grace looked ahead ten years to the possibility of Women students at Makerere”, again reports McGregor. In 1945, Catherine Senkatuka Shonubi entered Makerere College Straight from the School. (12 years later). The trend has continued up to this day.
It is important to observe that it was not in the English tradition then to have boys and girls in the same boarding school.
The names (known) of the pioneer ‘Little Girls’ are:

  • Margaret Nakato Mulyanti (Mrs. Mukasa)
  • Betty Serebe (Mrs. Sendegeya)
  • Hannah Namuli Wamala (Mrs. Lule)
  • Norah Muyinda (Mrs. Sekatawa)
  • Aida Musoke
  • Eseza Kitamirike
  • Flavia Kawalya (Mrs. Ssendagala)
  • Flora Kawalya (Mrs. Kulubya)
  • Emily(a Kenyan)
  • Faith Kibuka Musoke (Mulira)

All the Pioneer girls recalled this first period with great warmth. Today, Betty Serebe (Sendegeya) and Norah Muyinda (Sekatawa) and Faith Kibuka Musoke Mulira are surviving.
Canon Grace left Budo 18 months later. However, Canon L.J. Gaster, from England, who followed him, also gave his full support to Grace’s co-education policy. We read that Sir Phillip Mitchell, the then Governor was a great encourager too. As a result, chiefs all over the country gained the faith, and, even tradition, could not deter them from sending their daughters to the “experimental co-education”. It then happened that even fathers, mostly Kings and Chiefs who had sent their daughters to Gayaza High School, then closed Gayaza doors in preference to King’s College, Budo for their younger daughters. And later, many other educated parents from Bunyoro, Ankole, Acholi, Busoga in addition to Buganda, brought their daughters to King’s College, Budo.
Today, the school has girls from all over the country. Then the co-education door was opened, never to be closed again, now Eighty Years.

Role of the parents
The role of parents then can be summed up in the words of one of the first girl student, Margaret Mulyanti Mukasa who stated, in 1996 during the School’s Centenary (in the 100 years Magazine) that “Our parents, mainly our fathers, encouraged co-education, and they tried to see that we did not fail. Therefore, more parents were encouraged to try the co-education on their daughters”. In fact all the younger Mulyanti daughters attended only King’s College, Budo.

Role of Canon Gaster
It is known that Canon Gaster nursed the new co-education with extra commitment to the girls’ welfare and comfort (he perhaps indulged in them). For instance, during the rainy mornings, he would ferry the girls to the upper school, for chapel and classes, in his car. However, due to the girls being drawn as much as possible into the full life of the school, self-discipline was highly and equally encouraged for both girls and boys right from the start.

Girls’ Dormitories
It can be appreciated that the girls’ dormitories were named to signify the founding Headmasters of the School.

  • Sabaganzi (Weatherhead: The Baganda named him Sabaganzi – “much loved”.); The Founder and Father of King’s College, Budo.
  • Grace; The Founder and Father of Co-education at King’s College, Budo.
  • Gaster; The First “nurturer” of the Co-education system of the School.

Wardens and Matrons.
The most rewarding thing which must have blessed the co-education experiment in the early years was that, the headmasters, all (about six) from Britain, recruited and encouraged many British male as well as female teachers to join Budo, who also embraced the policy and so, together with the Ugandan teachers and staff who were of a very high caliber and commitment worked very well in strengthening the co-education. It is remembered that the female teachers in particular, passionately took on their role, not only as teachers but also as guardians of the girls. Many girls mostly remember Ms. Agnes Williams, an Anglican Church Missionary from Japan and a great Mathematics teacher in the top classes, as well as a girls’ Warden. Many girls treasured her love combined with positive discipline. She was in Budo for not less than five years, was a confessed “born again” Missionary, and she gave spiritually meaningful teachings to the girls. She regularly took the girls evening prayers and taught them many Choruses. Williams, notwithstanding her huge size, participated actively in all the girls’ extra-curricular activities, which included taking them to Nansove for swimming. She supervised Netball and Rounders, and would note who had ‘cut’ games. She had an amazing capacity of knowing all ‘her girls’, so it was difficult to escape her keen eye. She would control mischief and misbehavior with only an angry facial expression and with the words “I am ashamed of you, (name)” Thereby she installed in the girls the feeling to be ashamed of wrong doing, even later in life. She enjoyed taking the girls for Sunday walks without fail. She retired to Australia where she died. She was succeeded by Ms. Betty Head, then Ms. Mary Jewell, and there was one Ms. Gayler. Others followed, as the school records show.
In addition, Ugandan matrons who slept at the end of the dormitories assisted the wardens. The matrons too showed great love and care to the girls, especially the younger ones. They were, we can say, “mother-substitutes”. We should mention names of Juliana Namala, Dolosi Nankya, Ekiria Nakanyolo Muwanga, Naome Naigwe and Catherine Nanfuka Kigozi. Not to be forgotten was the School nurse, Princess Ada Nyamutoka from Tooro. Then there were those who doubled as teachers in the primary school, but also as caretakers and mentors of the girls. These included: Rebecca Waligo (Nabetta), Mrs. Eseza Makumbi, Ms. Esuka Mwase, and Ms. Dora Macby (Billington) among others.
The dedication of the wardens, matrons, and female teachers built in the girls a strong character and security that enabled them to manage the challenges of studying alongside boys while they were greatly outnumbered. These women’s roles and care went a long way to compliment the vision of “the Father of Co-education” and of the Pioneer Parents, so that the experiment took firm ground, and finally it has succeeded up to this day, thus the unshakeable tradition.

Practical subjects and hobbies.
The Founders of The School considered a syllabus with practical subjects as well. It was basically farming and later added carpentry. This is well documented in G.P Mcgregor’s Book. When girls joined the school, Domestic science and Needle-work were added, as well as gardening for all the students. All this was to give an all-round development to students, which would let them, be practical people in one way or another later in life.
During 1945-47, the Domestic Science was cemented in a ‘Homemakers’ course’ which was for girls who did not feel like continuing with the straight academic course that led to Makerere College (then), and in the 1960’s a ‘Home Economics’ course became an option for ‘O’level for all girls, even in other schools in the country. The Domestic Science building is still standing at the girls’ end. One Christine Kitamirike (Mrs. Sseninde) (RIP) recalled, in 1996, how this course was a great benefit to her in later life, to be a real homemaker, an able wife and mother.

Communal work
It is recorded and recalled that, all students were engaged in Communal work as a school extra curricular, every Wednesday afternoon. It consisted of helping the old people and the less privileged in the neighbouring villages, by fetching water and firewood, and collecting food for them from their gardens. Looking back, as one ‘First generation girl’ states, this experience is considered to be one of the most significant aspects that gave many girls of that period a satisfying and fuller life, in addition to the book education.

The commercial course
The vision of the founders, the Heads, and the Teachers for an “all round education” for Budo later resulted in a Commercial Course, as an alternative to a pure academic line. One joined this course after the Junior 3 class for three senior secondary years, learning subjects such as typing, book-keeping, short hand, office routine, commerce, commercial geography as well as arithmetic and English.
Ultimately, some girls also attempted this course. It is noted that in 1945, when Rhoda Nsibirwa opted to join the Commercial course as the first girl to attempt it, the Headmaster, Mr. Dennis Herbert had to consult her father for permission and guidance to do so. In 1946 and 1947, Catherine Sebuliba (O.M 2010) and Toni Bakaluba (RIP) joined respectively. Both Catherine and Toni started and run secretarial Training Institutes. Catherine still runs hers to this day in the Katwe suburb, and it is recognized by UNEB.

Some Challenges

  • It is noted however, that it was not always rosy for the girls during the different generations at King’s College, Budo. For instance, it is remembered that during the 1980s, there were times that the girls had to wait for the “body thermometer” of the Prefect-in-charge to sound the drum before the girls knew whether or not they could put on their sweaters. He would decide for all the girls whether it was cold enough for sweaters!
  • Attending Mess could also be a challenge. The girls, greatly outnumbered, sat with boys at the different tables. Once the meal was finished, if a girl happened to stand and walk out before the boys, they would clap their hands and bang their plates in a bid to ‘pocket the girls’ (staring at the girls embarrassingly). It is believed, that perhaps this is one of the things that makes the King’s College, Budo girls unique. This must have helped them to build up their confidence levels and just be ‘themselves’ and to stand for what is right. That aside, the experience in King’s College, Budo cannot be exchanged for any other. It was, and still is very enriching and produced all rounded girls who have gone on to achieve a lot in their different spheres of life.

Special Appreciation
First, we would like to appreciate the contribution of the different stake holders who enabled the establishment of a Sanatorium at the Girls’ End in view of the distance between the main School and girls’ end (2010-2011). This made a lot of difference to the comfort and convenience when girls got sick.
Secondly, we are indeed very grateful to the Headmaster, Mr. Bakka-Male Patrick, and Deputy Headmasters – Mrs. Rebecca Kiwanuka, Ms. Erina Musoke and the entire staff for the cake offered to celebrate the 80 years of Co-education at today’s Founders’ Day.

Finally, one may ask, “Did the girls who went through Budo during the Eighty Years make a significant contribution to the society?” This question will best be answered when the second attempt to update The Old Budonian Girls is sufficiently compiled, hopefully by August, 2013.
In this attempt, a request to all Old Budo Girls, to send details of their stay at Budo and after, in the last 80 Years, is being circulated to individuals and through the internet. This is being co-ordinated at the Old budonians’ Club office; Plot 76A, Shoal house, Bombo Road. (Or e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )
However, even now, it is clear that the Budo girls, whether their level of achievement was profoundly and publicly visible or not, have made and continue to make an extraordinary impact in society. It is also true that the number of girls has never decreased, but has gone on increasing from 12 girls in 1933, 106 in 1980 to 240 in 1987, to 300 in 2006, and 465 at present, 2013. Therefore, Canon Grace’s initiative was not in vain, for surely Budo’s co-education has a future, as well as all co-education in the country. This is the main objective as to why King’s College, Budo’s girls are dedicating this year 2013, to commemorate Eighty Years of the school’s Co-education system, from primary (Budo Junior School) to secondary “A “ Level and attempt to register the contribution made.

When the idea of 80 years of co-education commemoration was conceived by a few Old Girls, spearheaded by Mrs. Rhoda Kalema in December 2012, it was welcomed as very appropriate by the Old Budonians’ Club as well as The Headmaster and The School’s Administration. It was hoped that we would be able to Celebrate the “80 Years Co-education” together with the School’s 107 years, Founders’ Day.
However, it was soon realized that the celebrations could not be fulfilled today, mainly due to time factor. But it is gratifying that the Headmaster and The Board of Governors agreed that the Eighty Years Commemoration would be officially launched today, while the main Celebration will be carried out in August, from 9th to 11th during the Old Budonians’ “Home coming Camp” (The Re-union).
Now, to climax the Eighty Year Commemoration, it has been well considered to have a Project yet with a double purpose, as a Symbol.

  • First, the proposed Project is a construction of a Reading Room for the girls, and it is very pleasing that the school has already sited the land space for the intended construction. The small sized building is intended to give the girls a suitable premise within their vicinity to aid them: to study, to read books and journals, to write, to think, to do prep, to debate, to consult and even to host relevant Talks, and whatever that can foster and perfect their academic performance at the School and later in life.
  • The second purpose of the building is the wish to name the Reading Room “Margaret Mulyanti Mukasa”, this would be in memory of the first Girls’ Prefect from 1933 up to 1943. (She died in February, 2000). Hence “Margaret Mulyanti Mukasa Reading Room”. We believe that this too will add greater inspiration to the girls as they use it.

And therefore, to all the current and future Budo girls, the big challenge ahead is to continue to realize the “Vision” of Canon Harold Grace of 1933.
We therefore send a loud and humble message of Appeal for Funds to set this most desirable project up and get it completed early enough to serve the purpose. Details of the fundraising Committee and the Bank account will soon be communicated, but in the mean time, any willing donor can use the Old Budonian Club Account, number 014 000 725 2001, Stanbic Bank, City Branch, or cheques to the Old Budonians’ Club office, Plot 76A, Shoal House, Bombo Road. All the money will be receipted.
On behalf of all the Old and current Girls of King’s College, Budo, and also of all the Budonians of 107 years. I therefore announce that “The Commemoration of the 80 Years Co-education of King’s College, Budo”, is officially launched today.
This speech was prepared by:

  • Mrs. Rhoda Kalema (1937-47)
  • Ms. Diana Ssewankambo (1993-98)
  • Mrs. Jane Nakabiri (1958-61)
  • Mrs. Angela Kiryabwire Kanyima (1981-87)
  • Ms. Susan Muwanga (1976-79)
  • Mr. Bernard Okello (2001-06)

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Gakyali Mabaga!